Dry January is over, as is Kempston’s point and goal drought, as they bravely fought back with a man disadvantage to secure a first point since before Christmas and find the net for the first time since New Year’s Day.
Sam Johnson’s superbly taken leveller just before the break cancelled out the visitors penalty earlier in the game, but it was rookie keeper Michael Hudson that stole the show with a string of spectacular saves late in the game to preserve the point for Rovers.
Andrew Phillips saw an early snap shot go wide as Rovers looked to be the better side in the opening exchanges. Any optimism was wiped out in the twentieth minute as a long ball from the back saw the visitors in behind and as Gillett closed in on goal, a clumsy coming together between him and Jordan Wright saw the Rovers man penalised.
With the penalty given, the referee reached straight for the red card, deeming that Wright hadn’t made a legitimate challenge for the ball. Ben Willoughby found the net with the spot kick, despite Hudson getting a strong hand to it.
Having already been forced into one re-shuffle after the sending off, Rovers found themselves again shuffling their deck as Cameron Hyde fell victim to a heavy challenge and had to be withdrawn.
Rovers found their moment in the dying throws of the half, Phillips threading a perfect ball into Sam Johnson, closing in on goal. The spry winger delicately lifted the ball over the on rushing keeper much akin to finishing famously associated with Thierry Henry sending the teams in at the break level.
Rovers almost spectacularly took an early lead in the second half; Ben Baker curling a shot from the edge of the box, acrobatically turned away from the top corner at full stretch by Lawrence.
Sam Johnson flashed an effort wide of the post as Rovers sensed there was a result to be had, despite being a man down. As the game wore on, Kempston legs began to tire and Kidlington were able to open the play up more, but could not find a way through a resolute, if reshuffled, back line.
Late in the game, however, the visitors thought they had snatched the result. The ball bounced loose in the box and was fired goalward, Michael Hudson producing a strong block to beat the ball away, but it wasn’t cleared and as it looked to be tapped home at the far post, Hudson defied gravity, physics and all sense of belief to stretch across his line and claw the ball to safety completing a magnificent double save.
Moments later, he produced another acrobatic save to preserve the scoreline. As the game entered added time, Rovers could’ve stolen all the points themselves, Max Marsh putting an enticing cross into the box, but Andrew Phillips couldn’t stretch enough to turn it home.
The draw breaks a long losing streak, going back to before the new year and saw Rovers find the net for the first time in four outings, keeping them in nineteenth place in the table. Next weekend, Kempston travel to North Leigh.
1 Hudson, 2 Marsh, 3 Hyde, 4 Wright ©, 5 Bailey, 6 Gibson, 7 Johnson, 8 Goodman, 9 Phillips, 10 Dahie, 11 Baker
Subs 12 Birch, (unused Stratton, Hunt, Shortt, Knox)
1 Lawrence, 2 Davidson, 3 Flanagan, 4 Willoughby, 5 Peart, 6 West, 7 Mattimore, 8 Glover, 9 Robertson, 10 Gillett, 11 Castle ©
Subs 15 Moore, 16 Smith (unused London, Benjamin)
Attendance – 94
Rovers Man of the Match – Michael Hudson
Words by Matthew Wilmot